What is the role of SSRIs in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely prescribed for children with autism and related conditions. Beneficial effects on children and adolescents with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders have been reported with fluoxetine, [164] escitalopram, [165] and citalopram. [166, 167]

On the other hand, a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial by King and colleagues in 149 children with autism spectrum disorders found no difference between citalopram and placebo among children rated as much improved or very much improved. Participants in the treatment arm received liquid citalopram daily for 12 weeks at a mean maximum daily dose of 16.5 mg (maximum 20 mg). Nearly all the citalopram recipients reported adverse effects (eg, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, diarrhea). [168]

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